COUNCIL BLUFFS — The Iowa West Foundation this week celebrated a milestone for itself and the region it serves.
Grants approved by the foundation, which initiated its grant program in 1996, have now surpassed $300 million.
Before unveiling a gigantic symbolic check marking the $300 million milestone on Wednesday, representatives of several organizations talked about the foundation's impact.
Spencer Crews, executive director of Omaha's Lauritzen Gardens, said the foundation has supported the Omaha facility for the past 17 years, most recently with a $1 million grant to help with the construction of a $31.5 million project that will add a 20,000-square-foot conservatory.
Galen Barrett, president of the Pottawattamie County Firefighter and Rescue Association, noted that the foundation has provided $886,000 to volunteer fire departments in Pottawattamie County. That money has provided life-saving equipment that the departments otherwise might not have been able to afford.
Barrett said every ambulance and rescue squad in the county is equipped with an automatic electronic defibrillator “thanks to the Iowa West Foundation.”
“Our mission would be so much more difficult without the Iowa West Foundation,” he said.
Foundation President and CEO Pete Tulipana said the mission of the foundation remains making the area a community where businesses choose to locate and families choose to live because of the quality of life.
“You can't drive around Council Bluffs or Pottawattamie County without seeing the impact of the Iowa West Foundation and our community partners,” he said.